German Railway Brake Company To Hire About 150

February 13, 1991|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

ANNAPOLIS — A German maker of railway brakes will hire about 150 people when it moves from Rockville to Westminster in October, company officials said Tuesday.

The average salary for manufacturing workers at Knorr Brake Corp. is $9 to $12.50 an hour plus benefits, said company president Armin Wachsmuth.

The company decided to move to Carroll because it would have beentoo expensive to expand in Montgomery and because workers would be more readily available, he said.

Knorr Brake will hire area residents and use county vocational-technical programs to train workers, Wachsmuth said.

The state Department of Economic and Employment Development has given the company a $100,000 training grant, said Eric Feldmann, director of the Maryland International Division of DEED.

The state also is providing an industrial revenue bond for Knorr Brake of up to $9 million to help finance the move.

Knorr Brake will move into buildings occupied by Telemecanique Inc. on Route 140. Telemecanique announced plans last month to move all manufacturing operations to its plant at 2002 Bethel Road and to relocate its headquarters to Owings Mills, Baltimore County.

Knorr Brake will invest $11.5 million over the next two years in the land, buildings, machinery and equipment at its Westminster plant, Wachsmuth said. It will double production space to 78,500 square feet.

"We will establish a very modern manufacturing facility," he said at a press conference called by Gov. William Donald Schaefer at the State House.

The proposed assessment for 1991 on the land and buildings is $2.2 million, records atthe state Department of Assessments and Taxation show.

Knorr Brake, a privately owned company, has been in Rockville since 1975, when it opened a sales office, Wachsmuth said. It has experienced "slow but steady growth in Maryland," he said.

The company does assembly work at its Rockville facility, but not manufacturing, Feldmann said.

It is supplying brakes for the light-rail system being built from Hunt Valley to Glen Burnie, he said.

Knorr-Bremse, the parent company, is headquartered in Munich, has operations on five continents and employs about 8,500 people, said Chairman Heinz Hermann Thiele. In December, it purchased a facility in Watertown, N.Y., its second in the United States.

Sales in 1990 were $900 million, he said. The company also makes truck and bus brakes and components.

Knorr Brake employs 55 people in Rockville. Most of the jobs created in Westminster will be manufacturing jobs. The company will employ about 200 people within three years, officials said.

The company would have had problems finding machinists if it had expanded in Rockville because of the nature of the labor force in the Washington area, Wachsmuth said.

Carroll County will have more available workers and is as accessible to Baltimore's harbor as Rockville is, he said.

The unemployment rate in Carroll in December was 5.8 percent; in Montgomery County it was 3.3 percent.

Luther S. Miller, editor of Railway Age, a trade publication in New York City, said Knorr Brake is a well-known, highly reputable company in the industry.

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